The recent popularity of men choosing to be castrated and wear a dress ( a ‘sex-change’) has some similarities to certain past practices. The people involved had very different things to say about their reasons, but it’s sometimes better to consider actions, rather than words.

The Skoptys were a secret sect in Tsarist Russia, known for castration of men and mastectomy of women.

Nobles, military officers, priests and merchants joined its ranks – not just peasants. In the late 19th century, there were scandals when some high-ups in the Orthodox church were found to be Skoptys. Pull down their pants: surprise! Cf The Kreutzer Sonata.

There may have been as many as 100,000 Skoptys by the early 20th century. The Commies seem to have wiped them out, confirming that there’s a little bit of good in the worst of us.

The Galli, the eunuch priests of Cybele [ Magna Mater], are another example. “The Galli castrated themselves during an ecstatic celebration called the Dies sanguinis, or “Day of Blood”, which took place on March 24.[4] At the same time they put on women’s costume, mostly yellow in colour, and a sort of turban, together with pendants and ear-rings. They also wore their hair long, and bleached, and wore heavy make-up. They wandered around with followers, begging for charity, in return for which they were prepared to tell fortunes. On the day of mourning for Attis they ran around wildly and disheveled. They performed dances to the music of pipes and tambourines, and, in an ecstasy, flogged themselves until they bled.[3] ”

Self-castration was un-Roman and forbidden to citizens, except for the period between Claudius and Domitian. So the Galli were generally foreigners.

Rome officially adopted this cult at a low point in the 2nd Punic war. It lasted for a quite a while: St. Augustine complained about them.

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77 Responses to Skoptsys

  1. Ursiform says:

    Are these people you want reproducing?

    • We don’t know.
      From the other side, we want higher IQ people to reproduce more, on the other side, these higher IQ people are more likely to have pathological altruism.
      These sect probably had higher average IQ than the population.

  2. The people involved had very different things to say about their reasons, but it’s sometimes better to consider actions, rather than words.


  3. Warren Notes says:

    This whole thing got started with a screening of “The Christine Jorgenson Story” at a Decatur, Illinois drive-in. Some of the teenagers watching it inhaled the fumes of burnt soybeans and decided they wanted to be like Christine.. Soon after, they were seen strolling outside the Adult Book and Cinema near Lincoln Square in full makeup.

  4. Greying Wanderer says:

    hijras in India

  5. The Commies seem to have wiped them out, confirming that there’s a little bit of good in the worst of us.

    Lol !

    • Hugh Mann says:

      But they wouldn’t have reproduced anyway. It’s a self-solving problem, so there was no need for their extermination by the Communists.

      • Nachum says:

        They can convince others, that’s the problem.

        Of course, there are those who convince others to do the same thing effectively, if not physically.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Look, one asshole came up with this idea and convinced others. Without him it wouldn’t have happened. But some of those he convinced spread the idea further. You did notice that their numbers had gone up – how do you think that happened? ectogenesis?

        If there isn’t any hoof-and-mouth disease, there won’t be any hoof-and-mouth disease.

        • akarlin says:

          With a TFR of 6-7 children per woman this hardly constituted a demographic problem for the Russian Empire.

          • Cantman says:

            It’s a bigger problem if they start wiping out your elite, the people the social order depend upon to maintain it and the people the industrial economy depends upon to do useful work. Look at our society.

      • Bob says:

        Horizontal transmission.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      I can’t argue with the obvious truth that men who voluntarily cut off their balls or surgically have their penis turned into a hole are completely nuts. I can’t relate to people who seriously believe “I am a women locked into the body of a man.”

      But let them live in peace and give these folks respect when you meet them. Even talking jokingly that the commies did a good thing wiping them out bothers me. The world is full of assholes who point out people different then themselves and then bully and humiliate them. We don’t have to join them. Keep your snickers to your yourself.

      • gcochran9 says:


        If people had mercilessly mocked these loons, we wouldn’t have ‘well-meaning’ parents giving their kids puberty blockers or agreeing to surgically mutilate their 12-year old.

        Stupid ideas have consequences.

        • dave chamberlin says:

          A good friend of mine had a summer job working as a bus boy in a posh Washington DC restaurant/bar. Tuesday nights the bar closed to the public and a bunch of men would dress themselves up to the nines as women. Gowns, overdone make up, wigs, I am sure they all felt absolutely splendid. It wasn’t just any group of men but a collection of Washington’s power elite. Who was the belle of the ball? J. Edger Hoover. He was there with his man friend and everybody felt safe. J Edger was untouchable by president after president because he had the dirt on everybody. Anonymity is long gone now, thanks to cell phones and a gossipy press.

          J Edger was an ugly man, he must of looked completely ridiculous dressed like teenage girl out on prom night. It’s a perplexing amusing world we live in. We can take silly scenes like this seriously or we can laugh at it and let people do whatever it is that makes them happy. I choose the latter. We aren’t going to change the world but we can remain kind hearted and thereby change ourselves for the better.

          • gcochran9 says:

            Susan Rosenstiel, society divorcee, claimed to have seen Hoover engage in cross-dressing in the 1950s, at all-male parties.

            But as far as I can tell, all such allegations quote her. Nobody has ever found confirming evidence. I’ll bet your friend is quoting, rather than reporting personal experience.

            Hoover was a strange and powerful dude. Sometimes people refuse to believe true negative stories about powerful people they admire, sometimes they make up negative stories about powerful people they hate. Not easy to sort it all out. Think I’ll go reread Suetonius.

            • dave chamberlin says:

              My very good friend of forty years whom I trust swore up and down he was a busboy at a posh bar/restaurant located on the first floor of a hotel in Washington DC. One night of the week the bar was closed to the public and the place was filled with transvestites, with J Edgar Hoover being one of them. I didn’t believe him at first just like you don’t believe me, it sounds like bullshit, but he swore it was true. If true there are plenty of old queens still alive and kicking who saw him as well.

          • erica says:

            Research seems to show that gender reassignment surgery leaves a high % of those who had it even more miserable than before they got it. Further, suicide rates for those who’ve had it are just as high as for those who haven’t had it…and that’s very high.

            • What about trannying in the other direction? I have an acquaintance, a woman, who is now a “man.” He/she has said that she takes hormones and recent photos shows her/him to look sorta manish. She was a very butch woman, desiring men (which he/she still does making her/him now a homosexual as he/she says), given to beer drinking with townies at the Elks Club, hanging out with random bikers, custom knife crafters, and gun nuts. He/she says she/he has never been happier, having righted the wrongness she felt about herself since childhood.

              • Wilbur Hassenfus says:

                I’ve heard the same anecdotally from a friend whose wife has professional occasion to know a number of both flavor of tranny: He says the men who want to be women are batshit crazy, but the women who want to be men apparently end up surprisingly well adjusted.

                Seems that men who go on female hormones are surprised at how crazy they become (and they were already nuts to begin with), and women who go on male hormones are surprised at how sane they become.

              • Jessica Triepel says:

                Lol! Sounds awfully confusing. Why not just be a very butch woman, embrace it and keep on hanging with the people she likes?

              • E says:

                If I’m up on current parlance, thinking that butch women should just be butch women makes you transphobic.

              • Jessica Triepel says:

                The people throwing accusations of trans phobia like confetti should really look up the meaning of the word “phobia”.

          • Ilya says:

            This whole “live and let live argument” sounds correct, but it’s not that deep. If a person is not just an autonomous, atomized unit, but is defined by their family and community, he/she will not just do what he/she considers proper, but what is “proper” in the value framework in which he/she lives. Would you want to have such values in your community? If, further, you claim that this is not your community, but nonetheless accept that a nation is defined by a set of communities that can spread and propagate their values both vertically and horizontally without violent reprisal: would you want your nation to allow for this kind of values to spread, and hence possibly infect own community? After all, all sources claim that this thing propagated quite successfully in horizontal fashion. I wouldn’t allow it and no sane citizen would. The only true way to stop such craziness is to go full Biblical, as in Deut 23:17, ie declare it an abomination punishable by death.

        • melendwyr says:

          If people had mercilessly mocked those loons, they’d be doing some other stupid thing. Assuming mercilessly mocking people is effective at making people abandon positions, of course, which doesn’t seem likely.

        • Jessica Triepel says:

          I’m somewhere in the middle on this one. On the one hand, I’m kind to everyone who is kind to me. On the other hand, gcochran9 does have a point. We shouldn’t have to treat craziness as normal, but rather see these individuals in the same way we might see anyone with a mental illness, and don’t spread the disease to the children.

      • The Z Blog says:

        Turning virtues into vices is the road to degeneracy. Funny how it is always done by self-righteous scolds.

      • TWS says:

        Please adjust your bowtie it’s too tight.

      • Thersites says:

        To paraphrase Neuhaus, “Where reality is optional, reality will sooner or later be proscribed.”

      • Toddy Cat says:

        It’s possible to condemn murder as wrong, while recognizing that the world is also better off without someone, or someones. That looks like what we’re looking at here.The Commies were wrong to murder them, but they were dangerous lunatics, and the world is better off that this group, or movement, no longer exists…

  6. teageegeepea says:

    Are there any numbers on how much of an increase there has been?

    • MawBTS says:

      There’s about 3,200 gender reassignment surgeries per year. No idea about historic trends.

      And these aren’t always drastic: having the shape of your nose changed so that you feel more feminine is classed as such a surgery.

  7. MawBTS says:

    There was a French athlete called Violette Morris who was something of a tomboy. She competed at track, cycling, football, shotput, and a range of other things. She swore, chain-smoked cigarettes, and liked to build cars in her garage. Her saying was “Ce qu’un homme fait, Violette peut le faire!” (“Anything a man can do, Violette can do!”).

    In modern parlance, she was gender dysphoric. She had her breasts surgically removed, claiming their size made it difficult to race cars. Was that the real reason? Maybe she just didn’t like the physical evidence that she was a woman.

    In 1935 she became a Gestapo agent, delivering detailed plans of the Maginot Line to Hitler. There’s lots of Freudian implications about fascism and its machismo. She was shot and killed by the French resistance in 1944, while out driving with several other collabos.

  8. There is of course now gender-assignment reversal surgery as well. It’s a sad thing to watch people come to the realisation that changing sex was not all – or perhaps not any – of the problem and they are still unhappy.

  9. Ilya says:

    Just a small correction: “skoptsy” is already a plural form of “skopets.”

      • Harold says:

        And yet it remains. Another gcochran9 post that I feel as if I’m missing something. Is it supposed to be reminiscent of another word? All I can think of is ‘crypsis’, but that doesn’t seem quite right.

        Does someone have a better idea? Maybe I’m off track.

        Nor yet do I know what I’m supposed to get from considering their actions, apart from a sort of mutual-aid society.

        • Harold says:

          Eh, I just noticed it’s spelt ‘skoptys’ in the body instead of ‘skoptsy’

        • Cantman says:

          Obviously he wants to be understood by people who read English, the language of this blog, not look super duper smart to the odd reader who also reads Russian.

          • Harold says:

            That doesn’t explain ‘skoptys’. Maybe it was just a mistake.

            Knowledgeable English speakers are perfectly comfortable with foreign plurals. They’re not that rare.

  10. dearieme says:

    I suppose some people would do this sort of thing to avoid tax. Any sign of that in history?

  11. Off Topic - Education -> IQ? says:

    Off topic: Greg if you’re feeling energetic in this direction, tell me why this paper is wrong – – “How much does education improve intelligence? A meta-analysis”

    Overall result from their meta analysis: The results reported here indicate strong,consistent evidence for effects of educationon intelligence. Although the effects—on the order of a few IQ points for a year of education—might be considered small, at the societal level they are potentially of great consequence. A crucial next step will be to uncover the mechanisms of these educational effects on intelligence,in order to inform educational policy and practice.”

    I mean, I think it’s wrong.

    One simple reason I doubt it is that average years education increased by about 6 years in the Germany between 1980-2013 ( and more for females. I doubt the Germans actually saw a 6-18 point IQ gain! We’d have seen a comparable transformation in society to that between 85 IQ and 100 IQ countries (lots and lots and lots of economic growth).

    Another is that years of education vary between Western countries – say, from an average of 6 in Germany in 1980 to 12 the USA of the time (for males). Did these countries really vary by 6-18 IQ points?

    Further, even at the low end, late starting education has some positive associations and there are few significant problems with catchup by late starting students, which makes no sense if late starters should be at a profound IQ disadvantage equal to a few points.

    But what are other reasons it would be wrong?

    • MawBTS says:

      Reading quickly, it looks like a good study. I don’t see why it has to be wrong. Stuart J Ritchie swims in the same circles as a lot of HBDers; he’s probably better than average at avoiding the usual set of mistakes.

      It only looks at the effects of one year of extra education – it doesn’t claim that you can raise your IQ to indefinite levels by adding tons of school years.

      It’s surprising that there isn’t much of a fadeout (p11) – half of the effect size is still there by age 70 (?!). That wasn’t what I expected. Maybe they’re being pulled upwards by smaller outlier studies – most of the bigger ones tend towards the lower end.

      Again, we’re only talking about a few points.

      • Off Topic - Education -> IQ? says:

        In fairness, yes, they do state:

        We might expect the marginal cognitive benefits of education to diminish with increasing educational duration, such that the education-intelligence function eventually reaches a plateau.

        It is important to consider whether specific skills—those described as “malleable but peripheral” by Bailey et al. (2017, p.15)—or general abilities—such as the general, “g” factor of intelligence—have been improved (Jensen, 1989; Protzko, 2017).

    • dearieme says:

      “But what are other reasons it would be wrong?”

      The difficulty in making good allowance for confounding is a perpetual problem in psychology. Any work based on observation rather than controlled trials is vulnerable.

      • dearieme says:

        Unfortunately that’s true whether I like the result of the study or not. Is drinking a glass of wine every day good for you? I hope so but I put no more weight on studies that say “yes” than those that say “no”. A randomised, double-blind controlled trial is easily designed, hard to implement.

  12. Steven Wilson says:

    As a wise person pointed out, when we have a 5′ 6″ girl who weighs 80 pounds look at herself in the mirror and see fat, we recognize the mental illness and move heaven and earth to try to save them from themselves. When a person looks and sees the genitals and sees the opposite sex, there are those who lionize (or lionessize) them. Is it too much to ask to recognize that both of these “visions” are a form of mental illness.

    • erica says:

      Another mental malady society doesn’t lionize is apotemnophilia, the desire to get rid of a limb. However, I suppose I shouldn’t be too sure that in the future ESPN won’t find a former star who has had his leg or arm chopped off and pay tribute to his courage.

    • syonredux says:

      The words of Paul R McHugh, the man who stopped “gender re-assignment surgery” at Johns Hopkins in the ’70s

      “It is not obvious how this patient’s feeling that he is a woman trapped in a man’s body differs from the feeling of a patient with anorexia nervosa that she is obese despite her emaciated, cachectic state. We don’t do liposuction on anorexics. Why amputate the genitals of these poor men? Surely, the fault is in the mind not the member.”

      • Allan says:

        Good point, syonredux, about not amputating genitals. So amputate the head instead. This would be cheaper than psychiatric treatment (which someone must pay for). It would work MUCH quicker than psychiatric treatment. And it would reduce the opportunities for other mentally disordered people (e.g. psychologists, social workers, and sentimental political activists) to deform society when they act in concert on behalf of the deranged.

    • Indiana Jack says:

      Different societies lionize different illnesses. Today we might regard anorexics as mentally ill, but in medieval Europe “anorexia mirabilis” was regarded as a sign of holiness and after starving herself to death Catherine of Siena was canonized as a saint.

      • syonredux says:

        “Different societies lionize different illnesses. Today we might regard anorexics as mentally ill, but in medieval Europe “anorexia mirabilis” was regarded as a sign of holiness and after starving herself to death Catherine of Siena was canonized as a saint.’

        Whereas nowadays we canonize the “transgendered”….Saint Caitlyn Jenner….only heretics call the Holy One Bruce…….

    • Psychiatry always bows to the societal norm.
      BTW many (even many SJWs) actually argue that genger reassignment is the therapy for the illness.

  13. pleiadem45 says:

    Dear Dr. Cochran,
    This is way off-topic. The following paper may be of interest for a new thread:

    My regards,

  14. Bob says:

    These numbers seem absurdly high:

    “Nearly four-in-ten say they personally know someone who is transgender”

    As far as what share of Americans say they know a transgender person, 37% say they personally do, including 13% who say they have a close friend or a family member who is transgender (9% say they have a close friend and 6% have a family member who is transgender; respondents were allowed to select more than one answer). About a quarter of Americans (24%) say they have an acquaintance who is transgender, while 7% say they have a transgender co-worker.

    Millennials are the most likely to say they know a transgender person. Some 44% of Millennials say they do, compared with 36% of Gen Xers, 34% of Boomers and 21% of those in the Silent Generation. Younger generations are more likely to say this among both Democrats and Republicans.

    • E says:

      I wonder how much is that among younger people, “trans” is the new “gay”, in quotes since it seems to be particularly so for young women who would’ve been clear lesbians 20 years ago. Beyond that, a trans person would probably be much more salient these days when answering a survey than, say, remembering how many left-handed people you know. One trans person could easily have several hundred or more people claiming they know them, however loose the acquaintance, and among the younger set, who knows how they define “close friend”…

    • Jessica Triepel says:

      I don’t get these generation categories. Lol! I guess I should Google it.

  15. cthulhu says:

    The scars my destination.

  16. mitchellporter says:

    I attribute transgenderism, homosexuality, and many other sexual peculiarities, to the power of sexual conditioning. For example, if a person experiences orgasm under particular conditions, that’s encouragement, positive reinforcement, to seek out those conditions again.

    Obviously the most popular alternative explanation of transgenderism is of this kind: it says it’s a fetish. But I would argue that homosexuality has the same character. You get to be gay either through fantasy or through direct experience, and either way reinforcement through sexual conditioning occurs.

    This is at odds with the “born this way” dogma, but I bring this up also to question the gay germ theory. The evolutionary question is, why would homosexuality persist, and my answer is that it’s a side effect of the human combination of plasticity and sexual imprinting, which is how we combine sexual selection with pair bonding. If one really wishes to believe in a gay germ, such a thing can still exist, but I wouldn’t regard it as fundamental.

    • erica says:

      Researchers report that parents of gay sons noticed their sons’ interest in toys was gender atypical as far back as the crib or toddling. There’s little likelihood any sexual “conditioning” took place as early as that.

      • gcochran9 says:

        I kinda think that’s the case: on average. A trend in that direction, not universal. Then again, we know that it’s perfectly possible for medicos to all ‘know’ that stress causes ulcers, even though it doesn’t..

  17. Jim Given says:

    In your original blog post, are you speaking of groups that practice “castration” or those that practice “mutilation”? The former might be undergone by a person socially unable to mate who found sexual pressures very distressing. The latter a.k.a. “sex-change” seems much rarer in human history.

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